Our Attorneys

James M. Ridge

Jim was born and raised on the Northwest side of Chicago. He graduated from St. Ignatius College Prep High School and received his undergraduate degree from St. Louis University.  He received his Law degree from DePaul University School of Law in 1974. After graduating from Law School, he began practicing law in St. Louis, Missouri...More

Daniel J. Downes

Dan Downes has practiced law for over 40 years, representing the seriously injured.  While working as a detective on the Chicago Police Department he attended Loyola Law School and graduated with a Juris Doctorate degree in 1972...More

Karin K. Connelly

Karin has worked at Ridge & Downes since 1992, after receiving her law degree from DePaul University, School of Law, and her undergraduate degree in Political Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign...More

Amylee Hogan Simonovich

Amylee joined the firm in September 2009.  She graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2006, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in History with a minor in International Government & Politics. While at UIC, Amylee studied abroad in Paris and Aix-en-Provence, France, where she learned to speak fluent French...More

James T. Farnan

Jim Farnan grew up on the west side of Chicago.  He is a graduate of Fenwick High School, Eastern Illinois University, and The John Marshall Law School.  Jim joined our firm in 2015, following 27 years of trial experience with Guth, Reinke & Farnan, and Farnan & Cahill.  Most recently, Jim tried a case in June of 2014 resulting in a verdict of $1.8 million on behalf of a construction worker in a very difficult liability case...More

Brian H. Driscoll

Brian joined the firm in August 2020.  Brian earned his Juris Doctorate from Chicago Kent College of Law and his undergraduate degree from Marquette University...More

Michael B. Gunzburg

Michael Gunzburg has over 30 years of experience as a trial lawyer.  He began his career as a defense lawyer representing corporate defendants in product liability and construction injury cases before changing the focus of his practice to the representation of injured plaintiffs.  His experience on the defense side has provided him a unique perspective which has often proved invaluable in navigating a course to successful outcomes for his clients...More

Meet the Attorneys in our Chicago Office.

Our Staff

Karen A. DeWitt

Karen DeWitt is the office manager for Ridge & Downes. She started at the firm in 1978 after graduating from Southwest School of Business and Bogan High School. She was initially hired as a legal assistant and now manages the support staff, as well as assists the attorneys in the daily management of case files...More

Nóra Heenan Woulfe

Nóra holds a B.A. from DePaul University.  While at DePaul, Nóra auditioned for and became a member of the William Ferris Chorale, as both a chorale singer and soloist from 1978 – 81.  On October 5, 1979, Nora sang for Pope John Paul II at Holy Name Cathedral with Luciano Pavarotti and Chicago Lyric Opera’s Tenor, Frank Little.  Nóra received a scholarship to attend Yale University School of Music, where she obtained her master’s degree in 1982.  Nóra remained in Connecticut for 11-years, where she was an adjunct professor and Director of Chorale at Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, Connecticut for two years...More

Lydia Vega

Lydia Vega is a personal injury legal assistant at Ridge & Downes.  She has spent her career supporting litigation attorneys throughout the Loop.  Lydia was born and raised on the Northside of Chicago.  She currently lives in Lincoln Square, where she likes to entertain family and friends.

Jo Ann Wolniak

Jo Ann Wolniak has worked as a legal assistant at Ridge & Downes since 2006. She completed secretarial school at Tyler Southwest School of Business and became a legal secretary.  She has worked with various attorneys at Ridge & Downes, supporting both the workers’ compensation and personal injury departments.  She also assists with bookkeeping duties.


Jo Ann is married to her high school sweetheart.  They have two dogs, Daisy & Bella.  She is an adoring aunt to many nieces and nephews and two great-nieces.  She and her husband enjoy traveling.  Jo Ann is a big sports fanatic, loves Nascar, football, basketball, baseball, and hockey.  Jo Ann also sings in the choir at her church, loves spending time with her family and friends, and is very outgoing.

Vanessa Lopez

Vanessa Lopez is the Clerk at Ridge & Downes. She handles the Chicago Call, where she gets court dates set for cases and/or presents motions at the Commission. She goes to the Commission to file motions, dropoff/pickup settlement contracts from the vault, and transcripts when needed. She is also in charge of making sure settled cases are properly closed from our system and the physical file is ready for storage. Although this is the major part of her job, she is willing to help wherever she can and is needed.

Vanessa has lived in the Northside of Chicago for most of her life. Has been married since October 2010 and is blessed with a beautiful daughter and two dogs.

Daniel J. Downes, P.C.
24/7 FELA (800) 624-2121
Designated Legal Counsel


230 West Monroe Street, Suite 2330 
Chicago, IL 60606                  Map
Phone: (312) 372-8282
Fax: (312) 372-8560

Call 800.572.1136


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This web site is intended to provide general information regarding legal topics in the State of Illinois. It is not intended to provide legal advice or be relied upon as a legal opinion. For legal advice or opinion related to Illinois law, please consult with an attorney licensed to practice in the State of Illinois.

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